Archive for September, 2009

A short trip to celebrate the Centennial for Tomi-no-oka vineyard

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

At nine o’clock sharp, the JR Shinjuku station the Chuo line track 10, I got on the Limited Express Azusa #9 bound for Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture neighboring Tokyo, to join the event cerebrated the centennial anniversary of Tomi-no-oka vineyard by Suntory, beverage and liquor maker. As I designed a logotype for the vineyard’s centennial anniversary, I’ve been thinking to visit there during the centennial events would be held by the end of this year. The event I submitted included a tour in the winery and a special dinner with five Tomi-no-oka wines.

As the train approached Kofu, vineyards spread along with the track, Yamamashi is known for producing some kinds of fruits, especially Kofu, where is the land suitable for vineyard.

After arriving at the Kofu station, to waste a time until the tour would start, I came by Yamamashi Museum to see the Millet collection. Taking a lunch with Houtou noodles, famous as popular food for Yamanashi people, then returned to the Kofu station.

Getting on the shuttle bus to the vineyard, it took around twenty minutes, then the buildings in the winery covered with white wall appeared among the mountain. After an entrance procedure, the tour started with the guidance by Mr. Shounai, Brewery Manager.

As the tour started from the evening, all production line in the factory had already finished, we just went through the brewery facilities to see all rooms one by one and arrived at the wine cellar in the tunnel of the Tomi-no-oka hill. A hundreds of wine casks were laid quietly and waiting for bottling. The next room preserved the thousands of wine bottles waiting for the release date.

After watching the facilities, we got on the bus again and went to see the vineyard. The bus went through the forest, then the vineyards appeared in front of the bus. The vineyard spread on the southern slope on the hill with direct sunlight. From the top of the Tomi-no-oka hill, I could see the Kofu Bonchi Basin surrounded by high mountains called Minami Alps mountain chains, named after the Alps in Switzerland, but unfortunately, clouds covered Mt. Fuji.

Shounai allowed the tour members to bite grapes in the vineyard, known as Merlot for red wine, where would be harvested soon. “Wow! Delicious and Sweeeet!!” I didn’t expect the grape for wine is very delicious.

Then, evening twilight has come, the sky turns dark, the town lights in Kofu area started to lit up. The twilight dinner started and served beautiful and brilliant skilled dishes by the ingredients in Kofu with five Tomi-no-oka wines. We enjoyed the marriage with delicacies and wines. I was very glad to find the vineyard is excellent and fantastic place, and it was a great chance to work for the vineyard. To the next hundred years of Tomi-no-oka vineyard, Cheers!

Left: The bottle cerebrated the centennial anniversary for the Tomi-no-oka labeled with the logotype I made (Not for sale). Creative director of Suntory send me them after the tour. Right: The quarterly magazine published by Suntory titled “クォータリー: Quarterly” Vol.88 described the history of Tomi-no-oka vineyard.

Kinshachi Font Project

Monday, September 21st, 2009 announced that the Kinshachi font project has started and will out draft sketches for the Kinshachi font on November 1st. The teaser advertising for the project designed by Openends also showed on its web site, which has a major impact. This striking and interesting photo was taken in front of the Kinshachi.

What is the Kinshachi? Kinshachi, abbreviated from Kin-no-Shachihoko means a Golden tiger-headed with a dolphin body, is a symbol decoration usually on the top of the Japanese old castle. The gilded body Especially, the pair of the ones on the top of Nagoya Castle, located in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture,  central part of Japan, are the best known ones in Japan. So speaking Kinshachi, it reminds me of Nagoya Castle.

The organized by Type Project started the project to make a font for a city in Japan. It launched about three months ago and now they are looking for the city which wants to make an original font.

The founder of the cityfont project, Isao Suzuki, is also a founder of Type Project, started this project with the designers who will join the Nagoya Design Week and those who based in Nagoya city. Suzuki also came from Nagoya city and now bases in Tokyo. In 2010, Nagoya city will mark the 400th anniversary of the old Nagoya Shogunate town launched in 1610. To mark the occasion, they planed this.

Making an original font for a city becomes one of good solutions for the city which is likely to have its own specialty. A city font will work like a dialect which expresses a specific characteristic of the region, which will work as a tool of the brand identity. That’s why, it makes sense to use the Kinshachi as a motif to express Nagoya city.

I’ll follow the project and report it when the draft sketches out.

Meeting with a graduate of MA Type Design at Reading

Monday, September 7th, 2009

At the Shakujii Station on the Seibu Ikebukuro line in Nerima Ward, Tokyo, I was waiting for a graduate of Reading University in UK, Émilie and her friend Xavier to have an afternoon meeting. Since Émilie designed Japanese characters for multilingual font as her graduate work, she wanted to ask Japanese people about her design during her private trip to Japan.

Last week, Kimura, who is my junior in Kyoto City University of Arts, told me about Émilie. As Kimura had been in Typo/Graphic Studies in London College of Printing, now known as London College of Communication, he got email from his former-classmate in UK that Émilie wanted to ask Japanese about her design when she come to Japan. It would be nice but I thought she supposed to ask her request with type designer for Japanese font in order to get proper advice, so I arranged to visit Type Project, is the foundry known for making AXIS font, plus asked a type designer Okazawa of Yokokaku, who left Jiyukobo and started his office last month, to join our meeting because I hoped the meeting would be a good chance sharing type design topics.

In fact, I knew Émilie because her classmate Eben Sorkin, who I met at TypeCon Seattle two years ago, emailed and asked me to help Émilie for making Japanese characters last year. I couldn’t get any reply for a long time, but I was glad to hear she would come to Japan.

The meeting began with the presentation of the web site that Type Project launched last month, and then Suzuki of Type Project introduced about the Driver’s font. We asked Emilie some questions about the type design trend in European countries and the situation type designers are facing now. As I was also interested in the curriculum of the MA type design course of Reading, I asked her about it and the difference with the one of KABK.

We talk about Émilie’s work.

Émilie introduced her type design named Coline showing her great small specimen book. It was really nice and interesting work, I thought there’s no Japanese typeface like this style, and Coline might be fit for a magazine that featured natural organic items or casual fashion which women are interested in. When I saw the letters in large size, strokes seemed a little too dynamic and wild for the body text, but small size letters set in the column box, it seemed to be natural and calm, and strokes created comfortable rhythm.

She asked some questions about what the key factor is for making proper Kana forms, then, Suzuki mentioned that the importance to think about the order of the strokes in Kana because the stroke consequences came from the order of strokes would affect the forms of Kana letters. And added some tips for designing Japanese letters.

Left: Émilie explained about her design. Right: Left to Right, Xavier Antin, Émilie Rigaud, Satoru Kimura, Isao Suzuki of Type Project, Hideyo Ryoken of Type Project, Yoshihide Okazawa of Yokokaku.

It was only for three hours visiting in Type Project but we enjoyed having chat with them, and Émilie and Xavier also seemed to enjoy this meeting. I hope the meeting would help for her work and we hope to meet again in future. It would be nice we could meet again somewhere in the world, say at a type conference. And I’m looking forward to seeing Coline will be released.

Speaking a type designer based in overseas who designed Japanese font as a non-native speaker, it reminds me of Joachim Müller Lancé, who got Morisawa Award. I know the difficulty of making typeface in non-native language as I’m also one of designers making Latin alphabet. I expect those try to design Japanese font like Mr. Lance and Émilie will gradually increase, and I also hope I’ll be able to use Japanese font made by a designer who is non-native Japanese language. I’m sure they bring new styles which I have never seen to Japan.

The specimen book of Coline. The PDF of this specimen is available to download from HERE.